Get your church to use their unique gifts to impact the world

by Bob Bouwer - Pastor of Faith Church in Dyer, IN on May 29, 2015

It is interesting how God often uses the most quirky or seemingly insignificant gifts or passions to glorify his name and advance his kingdom near us and around the world.

Since college, I have used running as a way to keep in shape and, more recently, as a space for discipling Faith Church leaders. As I run with others, we catch up on life and ministry and dream big about the future.

When staff leaders and I became aware of Team World Vision, which invites individuals to run marathons and raise support for World Vision’s work, we knew it was a great fit. We were already passionate about running. And it was another connection point in a relationship with World Vision that started in late 2007, when Faith Church hosted the Step Into Africa exhibit. We were blown away by the response in attendance and child sponsorships. Our eyes and hearts were opened to the community of Karaba in Rwanda.

In 2008, we ran our first half marathon with Team World Vision in Chicago and raised more than $50,000. Each year we continue to run with Team World Vision, and each year we are astonished by people’s generosity. We also host annual Caregiver Kit packing events, which have blossomed into packing nearly 1,200 kits.

Our Heart for Karaba, Rwanda
Four years after that first half marathon, I went with a team of leaders from Faith Church to Rwanda to visit the people in Karaba, who have become so close to our hearts. We were overwhelmed by the beauty and brokenness of this small nation, which is still recovering from the 1994 genocide.

After praying for so long for the people of Karaba, we were finally able to put faces to their names. Our team took many photos and videos, so we could bring back to our church the faces of the people we have grown to love. This footage culminated with our church using World Vision U.S. President Rich Stearns’ book The Hole in Our Gospel for weekend services and small groups.

The Hole in Our Gospel functioned as yet another catalyst in our story with World Vision. New dreams were birthed by individuals and small groups as money was raised for clean water, additional child sponsorships, AIDS Caregiver Kits, and more.

Learning as a Community
We learned as a community how to use our unique gifts to impact the global cause. We now have children who run their own version of a half marathon, host bake sales, and man lemonade stands to raise money. A small group passionate about crafting also hosts an annual amazi (water) craft fair at our church.

My first trip to Rwanda has now turned into two, our church is sponsoring more than 500 children there, and we continue to raise support through Team World Vision. There is no doubt God has more in store for us than we could ever have imagined.

Faith Church is looking forward to our ongoing journey with World Vision. We continue to learn new ways of using our gifts and talents individually and together to serve the world.

Bob Bouwer is senior pastor of Chicagoland's Faith Church, whose church members have raised nearly $1.5 million through Team World Vision for World Vision's work. Bob also serves on World Vision's Ministry Advisor Council. He and his wife, Laurie, have four children, two grandchildren, and a sponsored child in Rwanda.

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